May 2, 2008

Jeff Perlman, Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Manager – Government Affairs

FTC Holds Green Marketing Workshop

The Federal Trade Commission held an environmental packaging workshop on April 30, hearing opinions from government officials, environmental group representatives and manufacturing and packaging companies. Most panelists agreed that changes were needed to the FTC’s Green Guides, a document that outlines permissible environmental claims in packaging and advertising. David Mallen of the Councils of Better Business Bureaus’ National Advertising Division said that environmental claims in advertising have nearly overtaken superiority claims as the most scrutinized. Panelists argued that consumers want brands to play a larger role in improving the environment and are often confused by environmental terminology, including “biodegradable,” “compostable” and “recyclable materials” versus “recycled materials,” and stressed that because there is no single body of data on recycling efforts, it is difficult to substantiate environmental claims. New FTC Chairman William Kovacic said his agency will continue to focus on state-of-the-art and difficult policy decisions, in combination with consumer protection, education and law enforcement. The AAF filed joint comments with the FTC urging them to proceed cautiously before making any revision to the guides. A copy of the letter is available here (pdf). More information about the workshop is available here.
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House Oversight Subcommittee Plans DTC Advertising Hearing

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on May 8 titled “Direct-to-Consumer Advertising: Marketing, Education or Deception?” Witnesses scheduled to testify include Dr. Ruth S. Day, a Duke University School of Medicine professor who has previously presented research to the Food and Drug Administration critical to DTC advertising, and representatives from pharmaceutical companies with products whose advertising has been suspended because of controversial claims. The outcome of the hearing might be a renewed effort to enact legislation restricting DTC advertising, including a multiyear moratorium on new drug advertising.
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Telecommunications Committee to Hold Net Neutrality Hearing

The Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on H.R. 5353, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. The bill, introduced by Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey, D-Mass., would direct the Federal Communications Commission to formally investigate whether Internet service providers restrict the speed at which users access certain online content. The bill would not mandate any network neutrality standards. So far, neither the House nor Senate has passed any net neutrality bills.
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Nielsen Moves February 2009 Sweeps to March, After DTV Transition

In order to ensure the continued accuracy of television audience estimates, Nielsen announced it will move its usual February sweeps period to March 2009, after the end of the analog-to-digital broadcast television transition. TV companies rely on sweeps ratings numbers to establish advertising rates. In the same announcement, the company noted it will continue providing overnight ratings in February 2009 and does not anticipate any changes to national ratings reporting. Nielsen currently monitors broadcast signals over the air, so it may rely on cable signals as backup during the transition over the next several months.
Back to Top Files Complaint Against Enacted New York Online Sales Tax

Seattle-based online retailer has filed a complaint with the New York State Supreme Court saying that a new law requiring some out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax is unconstitutional. Under the provisions of the law, scheduled to go in effect on June 1, any online retailer with at least one New York–based “agent,” such as a reseller or auction listing seller, must collect sales tax. The language of the law is designed to circumvent a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that stated out-of-state retailers do not have to collect sales tax unless they have a brick-and-mortar presence in a state.
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